China Daily goes over Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale results and proclaims a “warm breeze began to blow:”
“A lot of people were bidding like crazy. It goes against all recent trends,” said Hugh Moss, a veteran collector and dealer of Chinese art and ceramics who bid on, but failed to buy, three paintings. [ . . . ] In the more established fine Chinese paintings category, 89 percent of the lots sold on Sunday. Fu Baoshi’s “Drunken Monk” ink brush painting fetched $801,000, about twice the pre-sale estimate. Total sales were $16.6 million, well above expectations.
“It is a very encouraging sign for the market that quality works are highly sought after, with almost three-quarters of the lots sold going for more than the pre-sale estimate,” said C.K. Cheung, head of Chinese paintings for Sotheby’s. Most active collectors appear to be from Chinese mainland and Europe, analysts say. But Americans are starting to express interest again.
“Collectors are regaining their confidence,” said Carrie Clyne, director of China Square Gallery in New York City.
Meanwhile, in the primary market, 60 of the nearly 200 galleries in Beijing’s 798 District have closed:
“The rent was so high at 798, we decided we couldn’t afford it,” said Brian Wallace, director of the Red Gate Gallery, who closed a secondary gallery at 798 last December. “This kind of development cycle happens everywhere. It’s just that here, it happened so fast! That’s typical of what happens in China,” Wallace said.
The slowdown in the Chinese contemporary art market is not surprising, according to Fang Zhenning, an independent art critic in Beijing. “Art works are commodities, just like sugar or copper. The art market, like any other market, is speculative in nature and has its ups and downs,” he said.
“The market will come back and it will be more mature,” Wallace said.
China Daily’s status as a government organ may make the import of this story more that the government is actively supporting the art market than any of the art market information provided here. Nonetheless, government emphasis on the arts suggests a sustained interest in the cultural sector of the economy.
Spring Comes to Art Market (China Daily)